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Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) Chief Executive Aubrey McClendon said the company could have a buyer for its Permian Basin oil fields in the third quarter in a multibillion-dollar deal that will likely be one of the largest energy asset sales of the year.
Chesapeake owns about 1.5 million acres in the Permian Basin, a prolific oil field that stretches across some 75,000 square miles in west Texas and New Mexico. The Oklahoma City company is aiming to raise as much as $12 billion through asset sales this year and its Permian fields will likely bring in the largest haul.
"In the third quarter we expect to have significant news, including the likely disposal of our Permian assets," McClendon told investors and analysts at an Independent Petroleum Association of America conference on Wednesday.
After the conference, McClendon told Dow Jones Newswires that data packets were sent to prospective buyers earlier this week and some interested companies were signing confidentiality agreements that would allow them to view more information about the fields.
Chesapeake hasn't publicly put a price target on the Permian acres. The price per acre in recent Permian Basin deals has varied widely, from $1,600 to more than $17,000. Chesapeake has said it expects its Permian fields and a stake in its Mississippi Lime fields it has put up for sale to bring in between $6 billion and $8 billion together.
Chesapeake has about 2 million acres in the Mississippi Lime play, which straddles the Oklahoma-Kansas line.
"We are engaged in discussions about a joint venture right now," he told investors. "We hope to have something announced there by end of the second quarter."
McClendon said news reports out of Asia that reflect interest from potential joint-venture partners there are "encouraging." Chesapeake has two pacts in other oil fields with China's state-controlled CNOOC Ltd. (CEO).
-By Ryan Dezember, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-3057; firstname.lastname@example.org